By Shubhi Mangla
“Dreadlocks Story” is an 83-minute documentary which conveys the spiritual connection between Indian Sadhus and Jamaican Rastas. The Film was screened in four countries; India, Jamaica, USA and France and has gained a lot of momentum since last year. The documentary not only portrays the ethnic and rich heritage of Jamaica and but also talks about the roots of Rastafarian movement which was largely influenced by Hindu traditions. It reveals the secrets of Rastas in a unique way. The film is available in English, Hindi, French and Jamaican Patios with English, French and Spanish subtitles. Beginning right from the dreadlock’s hair style, the documentary takes its audience towards the never known history of Jamaica. The documentary also portrays the experiences of African slaves and how Indian workers were forced into servitude.
You can watch the trailer here
The film has been part of world’s biggest film festivals and cultural events. It has won many awards for Best Feature Documentary at 12 Months Film Festival in Romania, Davis International Film Festival in California, USA, IPHIAS in Jamaica and Intimalente Ethnographic Film Festival, Italy. Also winning the Platinum Documentary Feature Competition in Nevada International Film Festival, Nevada, USA.
About the Filmmaker
The documentary is written, directed and produced by Linda Ainouche, an Anthropologist Researcher. She was born in France and has stayed in a couple of counties throughout her life. She is currently settled in New York. She came up with this documentary to provide a platform to the Rastafari movement and Indian influence on it. Being an avid traveller she developed interest in exploring international cultural connections.
As a multi-lingual ethnographer and culture analyst, her works have been widely published in Hindi and English. Apart from Dreadlock story, she is also recognized for her works in Jainism. Linda is the founder of Look At My Productions. She has also worked with leading filmmakers and cultural consultants. She enjoys producing live events. Linda has a brilliant capability to go deep into the subject of her research and bring out the best in it.
The Dreadlocks Story
The documentary conveyed the spiritual link between the much criticized Dreadlock hairstyle and the Hindu culture. The documentary managed to touch sensitive topics like beliefs and superstitions in a much lighter way. In just a few minutes, it managed to answers various questions relating to Indian heritage in the history of Jamaican society. It gives a glimpse of the Rasta way of life and Hindu sadhus being involoved in it.
Filmmaker Linda Ainouche said in an interview conducted by India Empire Group, “Through it, I wanted to show people that in the face of adversity there is still hope, beauty, and the possibility of something new. By examining the diverse influences found in Rasta culture, Dreadlocks Story exhibits the strength and magnificence of a movement grounded in anti-slavery and anti-imperialist struggles. My findings also affirm the continued importance of Indian heritage in Jamaican society. We find it in various aspects, including cuisine, language, agriculture and medicine, to name just a few. The Hindu way of life, especially of Sadhus, can be seen in the practices of the Rasta way of life”.
Like India too, Jamaica was also ruled by British colonialists till 1962. Both Indians and Afro-Jamaicans were abducted and forced to work in sugar and banana plantations in Jamaica. The positive relationship of Indian slaves with their daily hardships shows that enslaved people have not only come from Africa. The African and Indian labourers were also bounded with contracts.
The pioneer of the Rastafari movement, Leonard Percival Howell was the First Rasta who believed that everyone should be divine through the anatomy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia thus starting the Rasta movement. His early followers were mostly poor and mentally oppressed people. Howell spent two years in jail and wrote a pamphlet under an Indian pen name, Gangunguru Maharaj which noted the significance of lifestyles of Jamaican Rastas and Indian sadhus (Holy men).
Howell, became the first black man to own a piece of land called ‘Pinnacle’, where he formed a self-dependent community for his followers. However, the community was completely destroyed by the colonists in 1958 which resulted in huge displacement of Rastas from Jamaica.
Wearing dreadlocks, became a means of defiance against the Pinnacle community. Today, dreadlocks are not only found in Jamaica but also in the Caribbean. Although today, a few accommodations have been made for Rastafarians, their struggle against discrimination and prejudice are still rife.
Shubhi Mangla is a student of Journalism and Mass Communiaction in New Delhi. Follow her on twitter @shubhi_mangla